Pay parking and an increase in development cash-in-lieu fees may soon become a reality as the District of Squamish prepares for the possibility of building an up-to-$25-million parkade in downtown.
While councillors expressed that they are hoping to avoid building the structure altogether, they voted unanimously 6-0 in favour of measures that would help fund a parkade. Coun. Doug Race did not vote, as he was absent.
During their meeting on March 10, council was presented with a variety of options for how the District might pony up the money to build the structure.
Via the cash-in-lieu policy, developers have been able to pay $15,000 per space to forgo building parking for their facilities. Presumably, this money would help the District build its own parking spaces instead.
However, a staff report said that this amount would not be enough to fund parkade construction. The current parking fund stands at $450,000 and is projected to hit $5 million by 2031, which is well short of even the cheapest parkade option.
Ultimately, council voted in favour of increasing cash-in-lieu development fees to $25,000 per space to match the City of Vancouver's fee.
Council also asked staff to study the possibility of eventually upping the cash-in-lieu rate to about $65,000 per space, which is roughly the price per parking space for building a 400-lot parkade, which would cost about $25 million.
That would be the most expensive parkade option. Less pricey choices would be $10 million for a 200-space parkade; and $19 million for a 300-space parkade, according to ISL Engineering, the municipality's consultant.
Council's motion also asks for the creation of a pay-parking program that would help fund the parkade and generate revenue.
However, Coun. Armand Hurford said he hoped that pay parking would be more of a way to prevent people from parking in a downtown spot indefinitely, rather than a source of funding.
Much of council also expressed that it would be preferable to not build a parkade at all, and instead focus on designing a walkable town.
It was noted that a parkade seemed at odds with the District's declaration of a climate emergency.
"Parkades should be controversial in this day and age," said Mayor Karen Elliott.
Coun. Chris Pettingill expressed a similar sentiment.
"If we have to build a parkade, it's an indicator that we have failed, I think, in our task as a council in today's times," said Pettingill.
However, general manager Gary Buxton said that the creation of a parkade is not a foregone conclusion.
"We're not saying we should build a parkade — that's not the intent," said Buxton.
"What we're saying is that if we get to the point we need one, these are the issues we need to consider. It's an 'if' scenario, not a 'we should' scenario."